Techno-Capitalism and Post-human Destinies – I by Debashish Banerji

Following on RC’s posting of the two articles by Arthur Kroker – on the Processed World of Marshall McLuhan and the Techno-Puritanism of American destining (Born Again Ideology) and reflecting on RC’s own commentary on the issue regarding technology and the post-human future, here is my first attempt at exploring some of the parameters of the question while seeking for answers and drawing out the larger peripheries before closing in/opening out on/to Sri Aurobindo as the prophet of the Life Divine as a post-technologial/post-human future.

As in Kroker’s analysis of McLuhan and also of his close braiding of Puritanism and the Enlightenment imperative in the American ethos, there is certainly more than a grain of truth to the idea that the Enlightenment is a metaphysically transposed theology, the grand onto-theology. Hegel indeed has been (and is being) read in this vein, as the grandest theorist of this white mythology of the Logos, the Word of God made flesh resurrecting itself into Universal Rationality as the end of History. Hence, to understand this, the essence of technology and the essence of the human need to be considered in their relation at this, the eschatological cusp of their mutual destinies.

But to complicate matters, there is also of course, capitalism, which neither Hegel, nor Teilhard or McLuhan have given much thought to in its intimate intermiscience with Technology and the Enlightenment teleology, though Hegel has been adapted into the Materialism of Marx in trying to make some sense of this and its overcoming. So perhaps we need to turn to him too.

Technology as the advance of human ability to “grasp” his world and “shape” it for his “use” – survival, utility, comfort, enjoyment, possession in that order of increasing aggression, has of course been with us since language, or the beginning of the human. But archaic cultures and civilizations have built their social worlds from another essence, not the essence of technology. This we can see quite clearly when we consider China, which invented paper, printing, the maritime compass and gunpowder, all indispensable foundations of the modern technological regime. Europe has used these technologies as the foundations of the Enlightenment – universal literacy and universal/targeted advertizing/propaganda; the voyages of discovery, the “final frontiers” and colonialism, the harvest of non-white peoples; the taming and mining of the earth and worldwide genocide. It took the “modern” combination of capitalism and the Enlightenment ideal to achieve this, China could and did not manage it. Mao Tze Dong wreaked his own version of it on his own people after learning of it from the west (and its critique, both at once, second- (or third)-hand) in a bid to disinfect the capitalism and retain the Enlightenment but produced only a bloodless population hungering to get back with a vengeance onto the desiring machine of techno-capitalism. But China of the archaic civilizational eras, those bygone impossible-to-recover times, now the rubbish of history, every day an aeon further in forgetting as our hyper-modern temporality with its flattening insistence on the surface of the present distances itself ever more completely from other temporalities (except to salvage their products as abstract aestheic capital), China produced its technologies as part of a differently balanced habitus, where conveniences and extensions came in the stride of a manifesting consciousness to which they were not primary.

Which brings up the Marxist critique of modernity as the techno-capitalistic desiring machine. Recent readings of the later Marx by Moishe Postone narrow his insight down to one which saw the fundamental shift as one from a society which produced primarily for its own consumption to a society which produced primarily for exchange with a view to negotiating competitive advantage. The self-orientation within a community embeds its products within its habitus and its internal discourse, and makes these products subservient to this social discourse and its interests and thus does not ascribe abstract use values to these products. Accordingly, it does not believe either in the production of surplus (except limited surpluses for emergency storage or barter/exchange with products not available to it but part of its discursive need). The shift occurs however when production of all products is primarily for exchange, detaching products from their habitus, ascribing abstract value to them and giving them the desirable potential of unbounded surplus production, corresponding to competitive advantage or accumulation of capital. Postone’s sophisticated expansion of this theme is too elaborate for me to present here beyond this nutshell, but I would recommend his Time, Labor and Social Domination. The bottom-line (for my purpose here) is that this ideological shift, arising out of a divorce between production and habitus, ends up in transforming habitus itself into a progressively abstract and universalizing derivative of its own products and their means of production – a habitus that is made to sink into the forgetfullness of all else and tailor its consciousness after the unbounded mechanical drive for the production of surplus and of markets to consume the surplus products. This endemically alienated habitus-production system is the condition we experience as modernity – not a static condition (though certainly static in the sense of its being a structure within which all its tremendous movement is trapped) but an ever-accelerating machine of increased production of products, of the means of production (production of technology), of consumers for the products (production of desire), of skill, knowledge, creativity and labor for the production of products, of the means of production and of the consumers of production (production of knowledge-workers and cultural capital). Like the Brahman in the verse from the Gita, which is said to be the sacrifice, the giver of the sacrifice, the enjoyer of the sacrifice and the goal of the sacrifice, Technology here is the primary product, the means of production of the product, the means of production of the consumer, and increasingly, the consumer him/herself and the knowledge-worker, reduced to a discursive punctuation mark, or binary fluctuation, Derrida’s “repeated violent insertions in the arithmetical machine.”

So, is there a way out? Is it going to be the Marxist revolution, the class war, are we going to have to begin worrying about which class we belong to or our neighbor or relatives? According to Postone, who is looking at the late writings of Marx, Marx himself did not see the solution coming from a division of society into bourgeouis and proletariat since he did not see the problem any more in subject/victim terms. The abstract alienated structure gathers a life of its own and makes all of us into its perpetrators and its victims. We internalize it through our habitus into our conscience, we are made into specific kinds of subjects by it. So if there is to be a revolution, Postone says, it must be an immanent revolutuon of human consciousness (yes, human, a post-humanity that needs to recover its humanity before exceeding itself if it is to “save itself” and not turn into a bioplasmic appendage of universal technology) within the episteme of techno-capitalism.

What does this mean in practical terms? What do we need to do? And are there any uses to technology if this happens? What about the universalization of Logos, Hegelian/Teilhardian/McLuhanian Noosphere/Universal Rationality/Sensory Omniscience? Where does it leave us? As wielders of pure consciousness or of new technologies? These and further questions are left for reflection for the time being.

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3 thoughts on “Techno-Capitalism and Post-human Destinies – I by Debashish Banerji

  1. debbanerji says:

    Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by RY Deshpande on Sat 02 Dec 2006 07:35 AM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    At this point I will just give a quotation from the Synthesis of Yoga:

    The telescope, the microscope, the scalpel, the retort and alembic cannot go beyond the physical, although they may arrive at subtler and subtler truths about the physical. If then we confine ourselves to what the senses and their physical aids reveal to us and refuse from the beginning to admit any other reality or any other means of knowledge, we are obliged to conclude that nothing is real except the physical and that there is no Self in us or in the universe, no God within and without, no ourselves even except this aggregate of brain, nerves and body. But this we are only obliged to conclude because we have assumed it firmly from the beginning and therefore cannot but circle round to our original assumption.

    Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by Debashish on Sat 02 Dec 2006 11:17 AM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    What Sri Aurobindo is pointing to here is one of the other major epistemic shifts determining modernity, one in the location of Truth. It is also intiamately related to the shift I have introduced above, the one in the ideology of production. In and by itself, the shift in the location of truth is the objectification of the physical world, the world “graspable” by the senses as the legitimate domain of knowledge. Other domains and disciplines of knowledge, the self for example or the psyche with psychology as its method and discursive accumulator or the study of “wisdom,” philosophy, become peripheralized or seen as derivatives to the physical concern – philosophy becomes natural philosophy, an archaic term which will be replaced by Science and psychology becomes a seeking for cognitive structures of thought based in the human brain or behaviors embedded in the grammatologies of language or awkward accomodations of arbitrary or partial intuitions with empirically based studies of symbology, always suspect to the thought-police of the “hard sciences.” This shift and its new assumptions (nomos/doxa) bring an enthusiastic flurry of inventions of the extensions of the senses to “establish” this domain of truth and milk it for its knowledge and its utilization and begins the momentum which will drive it to greater and greater discoveries of its field obtained through the exclusion of all other “archaic” fields of knowledge.

    The necessary relationship between Science and Technology that develops thereby is one that the noble drive for “truth-seeking” likes to represent as a fraternity with Science as the elder brother, but which contemporary philosophers have seen as life-motivated and resting on the other shift which I have outlined above – the capitalistic shift driving Technology and Science (in that reverse order) in a much swifter accelaration than the thirst for Knowledge as Science itself could have managed or even what RC has elsewhere called the Will to Technology as the Will to Power, the defining drive of the Asuric Superman.


    Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by Rich on Sat 02 Dec 2006 05:08 PM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    the capitalistic shift driving Technology and Science (in that reverse order) in a much swifter accelaration than the thirst for Knowledge as Science itself could have managed or even what RC has elsewhere called the Will to Technology as the Will to Power, the defining drive of the Asuric Superman.,…….

    and something we do not conceive of well, because yes, by its very nature it is moving at speeds which exceed our default mode of rationalizing time, usually, arithmetically, while the asuric or the singularity move exponentially.
    At least a (3rd order) cybernetic epistemology, one that comprehends complex systems, is required to understand such hyper-geometric progression as is driving us today toward l’Avenir.

    (from the Synthesis of Yoga)

    The telescope, the microscope, the scalpel, the retort and alembic cannot go beyond the physical, although they may arrive at subtler and subtler truths about the physical. If then we confine ourselves to what the senses and their physical aids reveal to us and refuse from the beginning to admit any other reality or any other means of knowledge, we are obliged to conclude that nothing is real except the physical and that there is no Self in us or in the universe, no God within and without, no ourselves even except this aggregate of brain, nerves and body. But this we are only obliged to conclude because we have assumed it firmly from the beginning and therefore cannot but circle round to our original assumption.

    The scientist once used the retort and the alembic, but now dna and nano-molecular machines, which cannot go beyond the physical but are revealing the subtler truths about the physical and it is those truths which are now accelerating us toward what was perhaps their original assumption, one of “completed nihilism” (as the passage in synthesis suggests) and this certainly has consequences, regards the journey of the evolution of consciousness and ideals of Human Unity.

    The Irony: the injurious neglect of the human as unintended consequences of the Enlightenment project.

    The Question: Can the birthing of the post-human be facilitated by means other than the injurious neglect of the human?


    Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by RY Deshpande on Mon 04 Dec 2006 02:05 AM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    I take in the Synthesis-passage the tools mentioned in it as suggestive of the scientific methodology of investigating the physical world. Our telescope is too small to see the universe in its dimensions of infinity; our microscope is too large to see the finer than the fine—to use the Upanishadic phrase; our instruments of studying life have no sensitivity to detect the process of decay-disintegration-death of life-in-matter. Howsoever refined our tools might become and whatever subtler truths about the physical we might reach, they still remain too gross. Knowledge based on such investigations carries certain kind of value, but carrying it beyond its domain could amount to making a leap. The journey of the evolution of consciousness is made not only by reason, but there are other known and unknown travellers also.

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by Rich on Tue 05 Dec 2006 08:18 AM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    Well certainly I think we all can agree that there are other forces both known and unknown abetting the evolution of consciousness, than just reason. However, setting aside at present the unknown which is in the domain of metaphysics, I think we could all agree that the most fundamental instrument of evolution is biology. So this begs the question, if human reason is developing instrumentation to alter our very biology, and the biological mutations which are the result of this alteration, become the adaptive mechanism of the future evolution (of human consciousness), then the phenomena which emerges from the intervention of reason, becomes something greater than, the sum of its parts (e.g. reason) does it not?

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by RY Deshpande on Tue 05 Dec 2006 09:14 PM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    Aren’t there too many unknowns even in our knowns to make the search frustrating? If we can think of the knowable unknown—not resting in the domain of metaphysics—then there could be a possibility of developing instrumentation for its investigation or study. But can reason posit anything about this kind of “knowable unknown” to pursue our inquiry in order to open out new lines of exploration. I wonder. Of course it is futile to talk about unknowable of any kind—known or unknown. If we have to extend the list of tools given in the Synthesis-passage we should also include in it the Mind-sense, Manas, used by reason. And then to quote a passage from the Letters: “Science itself has come to the conclusion that it cannot, as it once hoped, determine what is the truth of the things or their real nature, or what is behind physical phenomena; it can only deal with the process of physical things and how they come about or on what lines men can deal with and make use of them.” Though written some 70 years ago, it is valid even today.

    And about Manas: “Manas, say our philosophers, is the sixth sense. But we may even say that it is the only sense and that the others, vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste are merely specialisations of the sense-mind which, although it normally uses the sense-organs for the basis of its experience, yet exceeds them and is capable of a direct experience proper to its own inherent action.”


    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by Debashish on Fri 08 Dec 2006 12:19 AM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    As I see it, RYD’s quote from Sri Aurobindo points to a reduction of the domain of reality to an engagement between the human reason and matter. In terms of evolution, this may imply enhancements of the physical basis of consciousness, but whether it implies a change in consciousness is debatable. One may easily conceive a bionic or nano-genetic internalization of machinery which humankind is already using – a race of super-humans with telescopes or microscopes (or both) for eyes but that is just an intimate internalization and individualization of dualistic instrumentations, an enhancement of operation but is it a change of consciousness? One of the problems here is that we can know only what we experience – once again, as in our earlier formulation, epistemology follows ontology. The Buddha, for example, is depicted with a “super-brain,” ushnisha, which he is supposed to have been born with, and which gives him access to an experience of being different from those who do not have such an organ. If we “knew” the consciousness that can express itself through the physical organization of an ushnisha, and the dynamics of such an expression, we could attempt the mutation, but without the experience of alternate ontologies, how could we even begin to guess what mutations will take us there? If however, what you mean is that tampering with our physical organization to the degree of enhancing our present dualistic operation may result in undreamed-of changes in consciousness, this of course is possible (though I don’t know how probable)- but then we are invoking exactly those “other (known and unknown) travellers” that RYD is talking about.


    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by RY Deshpande on Fri 08 Dec 2006 07:22 PM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    Let us go to the description of samjñana in The Synthesis of Yoga (pp. 863-65):

    “…a fourth action of the supramental consciousness completes the various possibilities of the supramental knowledge. This still farther accentuates the objectivity of the thing known, puts it away from the station of experiencing consciousness and again brings it to nearness by a uniting contact effected either in a direct nearness, touch, union or less closely across the bridge or through the connecting stream of consciousness of which there has already been mention. It is a contacting of existence, presences, things, forms, forces, activities, but a contacting of them in the stuff of the supramental being and energy, not in the divisions of matter and through the physical instruments, that creates the supramental sense, samjñana. It is a little difficult to make the nature of the supramental sense understood to a mentality not yet familiar with it by enlarged experience, because our idea of sense action is governed by the limiting experience of the physical mind and we suppose that the fundamental thing in it is the impression made by an external object on the physical organ of sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, and that the business of the mind, the present central organ of our consciousness, is only to receive the physical impression and its nervous translation and so become intelligently conscious of the object. In order to understand the supramental change we have to realise first that the mind is the only real sense even in the physical process: its dependence on the physical impressions is the result of the conditions of the material evolution, but not a thing fundamental and indispensable. Mind is capable of a sight that is independent of the physical eye, a hearing that is independent of the physical ear, and so with the action of all the other senses. It is capable too of an awareness, operating by what appears to us as mental impressions, of things not conveyed or even suggested by the agency of the physical organs,—an opening to relations, happenings, forms even and the action of forces to which the physical organs could not have borne evidence. Then, becoming aware of these rarer powers, we speak of the mind as a sixth sense; but in fact it is the only true sense organ and the rest are no more than its outer conveniences and secondary instruments, although by its dependence on them they have become its limitations and its too imperative and exclusive conveyors. Again we have to realise—and this is more difficult to admit for our normal ideas in the matter—that the mind itself is only the characteristic instrument of sense, but the thing itself, sense in its purity, samjñana, exists behind and beyond the mind it uses and is a movement of the self, a direct and original activity of the infinite power of its consciousness. The pure action of sense is a spiritual action and pure sense is itself a power of the spirit.”

    Aren’t our senses miles and miles away from this true sense which alone can bring proper knowledge about the physical world to us?


    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by Debashish on Sat 09 Dec 2006 12:10 PM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    Editor: I am taking the liberty of copying RYD’s continued commentary on Samjnana, the Divine Sense, which he posted under Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies II but which belongs even more properly here:

    I will be brief. We have a series: physical instruments of observation in the scientific sense, such as microscopes, telescopes, modern accelrators; physical organs of contact, eye-ear-taste-smell-touch; behind them manas, mind as the true sense; finally sense in its purity sajnana that exists behind and beyond mind.

    Kena Upanishad speaks of a Sight behind our sight and a Hearing behind our hearing, not in general terms of a Sense behind our sense. It starts with a series of questions and straightaway asserts a few things:

    1. By whom missioned falls the mind shot to its mark? By whom yoked moves the first life-breath forward on its paths? By whom impelled is this word that men speak? What god set eye and ear to their workings?

    2. That which is hearing of our hearing, mind of our mind, speech of our speech, that too is life of our life-breath and sight of our sight. The wise are released beyond and they pass from this world and become immortal.

    3. There sight travels not, nor speech, nor the mind. We know It not nor can distinguish how one should teach of It: for It is other than the known; It is there above the unknown. It is so we have heard from men of old who declared That to our understanding.

    4. That which is unexpressed by the word, that by which the word is expressed, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

    5. That which thinks not by the mind, that by which the mind is thought, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

    6. That which sees not with the eye, that by which one sees the eye’s seeings, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

    7. That which hears not with the ear, that by which the ear’s hearing is heard, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

    8. That which breathes not with the breath, that by which the life-breath is led forward in its paths, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

    Sri Aurobindo’s commentary in chapter IX (pp. 148-55) is reproduced in the following:

    Mind was called by Indian psychologists the eleventh and ranks as the supreme sense. In the ancient arrangement of the senses, five of knowledge and five of action, it was the sixth of the organs of knowledge and at the same time the sixth of the organs of action. It is a commonplace of psychology that the effective functioning of the senses of knowledge is inoperative without the assistance of the mind; the eye may see, the ear may hear, all the senses may act, but if the mind pays no attention, the man has not heard, seen, felt, touched or tasted. Similarly, according to psychology, the organs of action act only by the force of the mind operating as will or, physiologically, by the reactive nervous force from the brain which must be according to materialistic notions the true self and essence of all will. In any case, the senses or all senses, if there are other than the ten,—according to a text in the Upanishad there should be at least fourteen, seven and seven,—all senses appear to be only organisations, functionings, instrumentations of the mind-consciousness, devices which it has formed in the course of its evolution in living Matter.

    Modern psychology has extended our knowledge and has admitted us to a truth which the ancients already knew but expressed in other language. We know now or we rediscover the truth that the conscious operation of mind is only a surface action. There is a much vaster and more potent subconscious mind which loses nothing of what the senses bring to it; it keeps all its wealth in an inexhaustible store of memory, akshitam shravah. The surface mind may pay no attention, still the subconscious mind attends, receives, treasures up with an infallible accuracy. The illiterate servant-girl hears daily her master reciting Hebrew in his study; the surface mind pays no attention to the unintelligible gibberish, but the subconscious mind hears, remembers and, when in an abnormal condition it comes up to the surface, reproduces those learned recitations with a portentous accuracy which the most correct and retentive scholar might envy. The man or mind has not heard because he did not attend; the greater man or mind within has heard because he always attends, or rather sub-tends, with an infinite capacity. So too a man put under an anaesthetic and operated upon has felt nothing; but release his subconscious mind by hypnosis and he will relate accurately every detail of the operation and its appropriate sufferings; for the stupor of the physical sense-organ could not prevent the larger mind within from observing and feeling.

    Similarly we know that a large part of our physical action is instinctive and directed not by the surface but by the subconscious mind. And we know now that it is a mind that acts and not merely an ignorant nervous reaction from the brute physical brain. The subconscious mind in the catering insect knows the anatomy of the victim it intends to immobilise and make food for its young and it directs the sting accordingly, as unerringly as the most skilful surgeon, provided the mere limited surface mind with its groping and faltering nervous action does not get in the way and falsify the inner knowledge or the inner will-force. These examples point us to truths which western psychology, hampered by past ignorance posing as scientific orthodoxy, still ignores or refuses to acknowledge. The Upanishads declare that the Mind in us is infinite; it knows not only what has been seen but what has not been seen, not only what has been heard but what has not been heard, not only what has been discriminated by the thought but what has not been discriminated by the thought. Let us say, then, in the tongue of our modern knowledge that the surface man in us is limited by his physical experiences; he knows only what his nervous life in the body brings to his embodied mind; and even of those bringings he knows, he can retain and utilise only so much as his surface mind-sense attends to and consciously remembers; but there is a larger subliminal consciousness within him which is not thus limited. That consciousness senses what has not been sensed by the surface mind and its organs and knows what the surface mind has not learned by its acquisitive thought. That in the insect knows the anatomy of its victim; that in the man outwardly insensible not only feels and remembers the action of the surgeon’s knife, but knows the appropriate reactions of suffering which were in the physical body inhibited by the anaesthetic and therefore non-existent; that in the illiterate servant-girl heard and retained accurately the words of an unknown language and could, as Yogic experience knows, by a higher action of itself understand those superficially unintelligible sounds.

    To return to the Vedantic words we have been using, there is a vaster action of the Sanjnana which is not limited by the action of the physical sense-organs; it was this which sensed perfectly and made its own through the ear the words of the unknown language, through the touch the movements of the unfelt surgeon’s knife, through the sense-mind or sixth sense the exact location of the centres of locomotion in the victim insect. There is also associated with it a corresponding vaster action of Prajnana, Ajnana and Vijnana not limited by the smaller apprehensive and comprehensive faculties of the external mind. It is this vaster Prajnana which perceived the proper relation of the words to each other, of the movement of the knife to the unfelt suffering of the nerves and of the successive relation in space of the articulations in the insect’s body. Such perception was inherent in the right reproduction of the words, the right narration of the sufferings, the right successive action of the sting. The Ajnana or Knowledge-Will originating all these actions was also vaster, not limited by the faltering force that governs the operations directed by the surface mind. And although in these examples the action of the vaster Vijnana is not so apparent, yet it was evidently there working through them and ensuring their co-ordination.

    But at present it is with the Sanjnana that we are concerned. Here we should note, first of all, that there is an action of the sense-mind which is superior to the particular action of the senses and is aware of things even without imaging them in forms of sight, sound, contact, but which also as a sort of subordinate operation, subordinate but necessary to completeness of presentation, does image in these forms. This is evident in psychical phenomena. Those who have carried the study and experimentation of them to a certain extent, have found that we can sense things known only to the minds of others, things that exist only at a great distance, things that belong to another plane than the terrestrial but have here their effects; we can both sense them in their images and also feel, as it were, all that they are without any definite image proper to the five senses.

    This shows, in the first place, that sight and the other senses are not mere results of the development of our physical organs in the terrestrial evolution. Mind, subconscious in all Matter and evolving in Matter, has developed these physical organs in order to apply its inherent capacities of sight, hearing etc., on the physical plane by physical means for a physical life; but they are inherent capacities and not dependent on the circumstance of terrestrial evolution and they can be employed without the use of the physical eye, ear, skin, palate. Supposing that there are psychical senses which act through a psychical body, and we thus explain these psychical phenomena, still that action also is only an organisation of the inherent functioning of the essential sense, the Sanjnana, which in itself can operate without bodily organs. This essential sense is the original capacity of consciousness to feel in itself all that consciousness has formed and to feel it in all the essential properties and operations of that which has form, whether represented materially by vibration of sound or images of light or any other physical symbol.

    The trend of knowledge leads more and more to the conclusion that not only are the properties of form, even the most obvious such as colour, light etc., merely operations of Force, but form itself is only an operation of Force. This Force again proves to be self-power of conscious-being in a state of energy and activity. Practically, therefore, all form is only an operation of consciousness impressing itself with presentations of its own workings. We see colour because that is the presentation which consciousness makes to itself of one of its own operations; but colour is only an operation of Force working in the form of Light, and Light again is only a movement, that is to say an operation of Force. The question is what is essential to this operation of Force taking on itself the presentation of form? For it is this that must determine the working of Sanjnana or Sense on whatever plane it may operate.

    Everything begins with vibration or movement, the original kshobha or disturbance. If there is no movement of the conscious being, it can only know its own pure static existence. Without vibration or movement of being in consciousness there can be no act of knowledge and therefore no sense; without vibration or movement of being in force there can be no object of sense. Movement of conscious being as knowledge becoming sensible of itself as movement of force, in other words the knowledge separating itself from its own working to watch that and take it into itself again by feeling,—this is the basis of universal Sanjnana. This is true both of our internal and external operations. I become anger by a vibration of conscious force acting as nervous emotion and I feel the anger that I have become by another movement of conscious force acting as light of knowledge. I am conscious of my body because I have myself become the body; that same force of conscious being which has made this form of itself, this presentation of its workings knows it in that form, in that presentation. I can know nothing except what I myself am; if I know others, it is because they also are myself, because my self has assumed these apparently alien presentations as well as that which is nearest to my own mental centre.

    All sensation, all action of sense is thus the same in essence whether external or internal, physical or psychical. But this vibration of conscious being is presented to itself by various forms of sense which answer to the successive operations of movement in its assumption of form. For first we have intensity of vibration creating regular rhythm which is the basis or constituent of all creative formation; secondly, contact or intermiscence of the movements of conscious being which constitute the rhythm; thirdly, definition of the grouping of movements which are in contact, their shape; fourthly, the constant welling up of the essential force to support in its continuity the movement that has been thus defined; fifthly, the actual enforcement and compression of the force in its own movement which maintains the form that has been assumed. In Matter these five constituent operations are said by the Sankhyas to represent themselves as five elemental conditions of substance, the etheric, atmospheric, igneous, liquid and solid; and the rhythm of vibration is seen by them as shabda, sound, the basis of hearing, the intermiscence as contact, the basis of touch, the definition as shape, the basis of sight, the upflow of force as rasa, sap, the basis of taste, and the discharge of the atomic compression as gandha, odour, the basis of smell. It is true that this is only predicated of pure or subtle Matter; the physical matter of our world being a mixed operation of force, these five elemental states are not found there separately except in a very modified form. But all these are only the physical workings or symbols. Essentially all formation, to the most subtle and most beyond our senses such as form of mind, form of character, form of soul, amount when scrutinised to this fivefold operation of conscious-force in movement.
    All these operations, then, the Sanjnana or essential sense must be able to seize, to make its own by that union in knowledge of knower and object which is peculiar to itself. Its sense of the rhythm or intensity of the vibrations which contain in themselves all the meaning of the form, will be the basis of the essential hearing of which our apprehension of physical sound or the spoken word is only the most outward result; so also its sense of the contact or intermiscence of conscious force with conscious force must be the basis of the essential touch; its sense of the definition or form of force must be the basis of the essential sight; its sense of the upflow of essential being in the form, that which is the secret of its self-delight, must be the basis of the essential taste; its sense of the compression of force and the self-discharge of its essence of being must be the basis of the essential inhalation grossly represented in physical substance by the sense of smell. On whatever plane, to whatever kind of formation these essentialities of sense will apply themselves and on each they will seek an appropriate organisation, an appropriate functioning.

    This various sense will, it is obvious, be in the highest consciousness a complex unity, just as we have seen that there the various operation of knowledge is also a complex unity. Even if we examine the physical senses, say, the sense of hearing, if we observe how the underlying mind receives their action, we shall see that in their essence all the senses are in each other. That mind is not only aware of the vibration which we call sound; it is aware also of the contact and interchange between the force in the sound and the nervous force in us with which that intermixes; it is aware of the definition or form of the sound and of the complex contacts or relations which make up the form; it is aware of the essence or outwelling conscious force which constitutes and maintains the sound and prolongs its vibrations in our nervous being; it is aware of our own nervous inhalation of the vibratory discharge proceeding from the compression of force which makes, so to speak, the solidity of the sound. All these sensations enter into the sensitive reception and joy of music which is the highest physical form of this operation of force,—they constitute our physical sensitiveness to it and the joy of our nervous being in it; diminish one of them and the joy and the sensitiveness are to that extent dulled. Much more must there be this complex unity in a higher than the physical consciousness and most of all must there be unity in the highest. But the essential sense must be capable also of seizing the secret essence of all conscious being in action, in itself and not only through the results of the operation; its appreciation of these results can be nothing more than itself an outcome of this deeper sense which it has of the essence of the Thing behind its appearances.

    If we consider these things thus subtly in the light of our own deeper psychology and pursue them beyond the physical appearances by which they are covered, we shall get to some intellectual conception of the sense behind our senses or rather the Sense of our senses, the Sight of our sight and the Hearing of our hearing. The Brahman-consciousness of which the Upanishad speaks is not the Absolute withdrawn into itself, but that Absolute in its outlook on the relative; it is the Lord, the Master-Soul, the governing Transcendent and All, He who constitutes and controls the action of the gods on the different planes of our being.

    Since it constitutes them, all our workings can be no more than psychical and physical results and representations of something essential proper to its supreme creative outlook, our sense a shadow of the divine Sense, our sight of the divine Sight, our hearing of the divine Hearing. Nor is that divine Sight and Hearing limited to things physical, but extend themselves to all forms and operations of conscious being.

    The supreme Consciousness does not depend on what we call sight and hearing for its own essential seeing and audition. It operates by a supreme Sense, creative and comprehensive, of which our physical and psychical sight and hearing are external results and partial operations. Neither is it ignorant of these, nor excludes them; for since it constitutes and controls, it must be aware of them but from a supreme plane, param dhama, which includes all in its view; for its original action is that highest movement of Vishnu which, the Veda tells us, the seers behold like an eye extended in heaven. It is that by which the soul sees its seeings and hears its hearings; but all sense only assumes its true value and attains to its absolute, its immortal reality when we cease to pursue the satisfactions of the mere external and physical senses and go beyond even the psychical being to this spiritual or essential which is the source and fountain, the knower,
    constituent and true valuer of all the rest.

    This spiritual sense of things, secret and superconscient in us, alone gives their being, worth and reality to the psychical and physical sense; in themselves they have none. When we attain to it, these inferior operations are as it were taken up into it and the whole world and everything in it changes to us and takes on a different and a non-material value. That Master-consciousness in us senses our sensations of objects, sees our seeings, hears our hearings no longer for the benefit of the senses and their desires, but with the embrace of the self-existent Bliss which has no cause, beginning or end, eternal in its own immortality.


    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by Debashish on Sun 10 Dec 2006 03:39 PM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    This comment has now been made a part of a separate article,
    Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies. If interested, please view this article and continue the dialog there. – Editor

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – I
    by Debashish on Sun 10 Dec 2006 03:40 PM PST | Profile | Permanent Link
    This comment has now been made a part of a separate article,
    Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies. If interested, please view this article and continue the dialog there. – Editor

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  3. […] Techno-Capitalism and Post-human Destinies – I by Debashish Banerji […]

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